As humans, we tend to think of ourselves as superior beings. Because we have logical and emotional faculties that are almost excessively powerful, we look at humankind as the quintessential image of sentience. In reality, we're far from alone when it comes to emotional intelligence. If you've ever brought a pet into your family, you've seen their capacity for love and compassion firsthand — but humans aren't the only beings with which animals form strong bonds.
This is something that Finland-based wildlife photographer Lassi Rautiainen has learned over the course of his career. While he was out in the field with his colleagues Susan Brookes and Staffan Widstrand recently, he came across one relationship in particular that's captivated him ever since.
While Rautiainen is fascinated by all animals, this photographer has spent a lifetime focusing on some of Finland's most misunderstood creatures. His goal is to help people see the beauty and intelligence of wolves, bears, and wolverines.
While he was out shooting one day, he came across what was an unprecedented sight in his book. That's when he focused his viewfinder on an unlikely duo that's since garnered international attention.
At first, he thought that the sighting was a fluke -- a brief encounter between two adversaries. When he began studying the pair, however, he made a stunning realization.
The two spent almost every waking moment with each other.
They surveyed the land together, they hunted together, and they even shared meals. Day after day, Rautiainen watched as the relationship blossomed into something upon which both animals relied.
According to the photographer, "No one can know exactly why or how the young wolf and bear became friends, but I think that they were both alone when they were young and a bit unsure of how to survive alone. It seems like they feel safe together."
Although this relationship seems unconventional, it centers around many of the same tenets that we associate with human friendships. When they need someone to lean on, they turn to each other. It's as simple as that.